Many Nevada residents will work their entire lives with the hope of leaving something of value to their heirs. The unfortunate truth is that it sometimes does not happen as planned. Inheritances are not always guaranteed. This is especially true if the proper estate planning has not been performed. The annual Nevada Safe Deposit Box Auction is a strong indicator of that.
This event takes place each year and is organized by the state treasurer's office. It consists of abandoned safe deposit boxes held by banks and casinos. After three years of dormancy, this unclaimed property goes up for auction. Casinos and banks will try to locate owners but if they cannot, they will turn the property over to the state, which will do its own search for the owners. If that fails, the property goes up for sale.
More often than not heirs are located, but some bidders do walk away with valuables that may have been set aside for heirs. For those who have been putting their prized possessions into safe deposit boxes with the hope that these inheritances will find their way to the proper heirs, estate planning can eliminate the guess work and uncertainty that leads to property ending up in such auctions. Nevada now holds some $500 million in unclaimed property that may or may not find its way into the hands of legitimate heirs.
The idea that estate planning is only for the rich is a myth. Anyone who has assets that they wish to pass along as an inheritance can benefit from estate planning. At the very least, it allows the individual to leave behind what they wish and to whom they wish.
Source: The Las Vegas Weekly, "The fate of unclaimed property: Nevada's annual Safe Deposit Box Auction," Erin Ryan, Dec. 7, 2011